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Anaheim Stadium, home of the Angels, is located just a short
drive from the Magic Kingdom. So maybe it's no surprise that the
first part of California's 1995 season played out like a Disney
flick. Picked to finish last in the AL West by most observers,
the team defied its critics and led the division by 10 1/2 games
with a 64-38 record on Aug. 15. Unfortunately for the Angels,
their story proved too Hollywood for even, well, Hollywood. The
club collapsed, losing 28 of 37 games. Not since the opening of
Judge Dredd had Tinseltown heard such a colossal thud. Although
the Angels regrouped to win their final five games and force a
one-game playoff for the AL West title, they were picked apart
by the Mariners, 9-1, in the Kingdome. "We were so close," said
pitcher Mark Langston. "I can't believe the way it turned out."

Langston can take heart. With nearly all of its key position
players returning, California is ready to shake off last year's
downfall and claim its first AL West flag since 1986.

Leading the likely procession into the postseason will be a
pitching staff that features three fine lefthanded starters:
veterans Langston, Chuck Finley and Jim Abbott. Although
Langston and Finley slumped badly at the end of last season, the
Angels felt so strongly about their staff that they shelled out
big bucks to keep it together. Finley was re-signed to a
three-year, $12 million contract, and Abbott--who was reacquired
in a July trade with the White Sox--was secured for $7.8 million
over the same period.

The bullpen is in equally sure hands. Although ace reliever Lee
Smith may not be ready by Opening Day after rehabbing his right
knee--he ruptured a tendon in November when he stepped in a hole
while hunting--California won't miss a beat. Hard-throwing Troy
Percival (page 120) will move temporarily from setup man to
closer. The Angels also hope that free agent Bryan Harvey, who
signed a $500,000 contract, can pitch well again after sitting
out most of the last two years with right elbow trouble.

The offense, meanwhile, should once again be the AL's most
powerful this side of Lake Erie. Although California will be
hard-pressed to match its numbers of last season--the club
finished second in the league behind the Indians in both runs
scored (801) and home runs (186)--it should still be able to
keep scoreboard operators busy. Led by MVP candidate Tim Salmon,
who last year became the second player in team history to hit 30
home runs in two separate seasons (the first was Don Baylor),
the Angels will send a menu of heavy hitters to the dish,
including designated hitter Chili Davis, centerfielder Jim
Edmonds and first baseman J.T. Snow.

On defense, former Yankees utility infielder Randy Velarde--who
signed a three-year, $2.45 million contract in November--and
All-Star shortstop Gary DiSarcina, who has recovered from the
torn ligament in his left thumb that kept him out of the lineup
for six weeks last year, make California solid up the middle.

The loss of leadoff hitter and spark plug Tony Phillips will
hurt, but the Angels' biggest concerns will be at catcher and
third base. During the off-season the team cut loose oft-injured
veteran catcher Greg Myers and backup Andy Allanson, leaving the
starting job to the inconsistent Jorge Fabregas. The situation
at third base is even more tenuous: 38-year-old Tim Wallach, who
was released by the Dodgers after an injury-plagued season, and
former Angel Jack Howell, who played in Japan the last four
years, are expected to platoon at the corner.

Even with all these question marks, California feels it has the
pitching, hitting and defense to dethrone Seattle. Most of the
Angels are anxious to put last year's collapse behind them and
get back on the field. "We all have a feeling of unfinished
business after what happened last year," says Finley, the only
player remaining from California's last division winner. "We all
suffered, but I think that makes us all the more determined to
go out and win this year."

And if Finley and the Angels need any more reason for optimism,
consider this bit of news: On Jan. 18, Major League Baseball
approved the sale of 25% of the California club (contingent on a
new stadium deal with the city of Anaheim) to a local entity
with deep pockets and the know-how to make fairy tales come
true. The new owner's name: The Walt Disney Co.

--Marty Burns

COLOR PHOTO: SCOTT JORDAN LEVY INSET [Varies by region] Garret Anderson: A Promising Angel In the Outfield

COLOR PHOTO: AL TIELEMANS Salmon's bat powers the potent Angels offense, but he's also a catch on D. [Tim Salmon in game]


1995 Team Statistics (AL rank in parentheses)

Batting Average .277 (5)
Home Runs 186 (2)
ERA 4.53 (6)
Fielding Pct. .982 (5)

Not a Heavenly Finish

The Angels' largest lead in the AL West last season was 11 games
(as late as Aug. 9). In losing the division title to Seattle,
California became the sixth team in major league history to fail
to win a league or division title after leading by at least 10
games. Only one other team--the 1951 Dodgers--failed to win
after building a lead of 11or more games.

Biggest Blown Leads

Largest Finish,
lead games behind

1951 Dodgers* 13 games on Aug. 11 Second place, 1
1995 Angels* 11 games on Aug. 9 Second place, 1
1979 Astros 10 1/2 games on July 4 Second place, 1 1/2
1942 Dodgers 10 games on Aug. 4 Second place, 2
1978 Red Sox* 10 games on July 8 Second place, 1
1993 Giants 10 games on July 22 Second place, 1

*Lost playoff to decide league or division championship


With his receding hairline and bulging forearms, rookie catcher
Todd Greene physically resembles Giants third baseman Matt
Williams. Greene's ability to hit the ball out of the park also
draws favorable comparison to Williams. A converted outfielder,
Greene blasted 88 career home runs at Georgia Southern and ranks
third on the NCAA's alltime list. Last season Greene, the
Angels' 12th round draft pick in 1993, slugged 40 homers while
playing at Double A Midland, Texas, and Triple A Vancouver, and
was named Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball Weekly.
California would prefer to keep Greene in Vancouver for one
additional year of seasoning, but don't be surprised to see him
replace the weak-hitting Jorge Fabregas in the lineup by
midseason. Says Angels general manager Bill Bavasi, "We know
Todd can hit."



2B Randy Velarde[**] .278, 7, 46, 5
CF Jim Edmonds .290, 33, 107, 1
RF Tim Salmon .330, 34, 105, 5
DH Chili Davis .318, 20, 86, 3
1B J.T. Snow .289, 24, 102, 2
LF Garret Anderson .321, 16, 69, 6
3B Tim Wallach[**] .266, 9, 38, 0
C Jorge Fabregas .247, 1, 22, 0
SS Gary DiSarcina .307, 5, 41, 7


IF Jack Howell[**] 14 HRs in Japan
IF Damion Easley .216, 4, 35, 5


LH Chuck Finley 15-12, 4.21
LH Mark Langston 15-7, 4.63
LH Jim Abbott 11-8, 3.70
RH Steve Ontiveros[**] 9-6, 4.37
RH Phil Leftwich (R) 3.19 ERA in AAA


RH Troy Percival 3, 1.95
RH Lee Smith 37, 3.47
RH Bryan Harvey*[**] 6, 5.23
RH Dennis Springer[**] 0, 4.84

*1994 statistics
[**] New acquisition (R) Rookie